Review: Ripper Street (S5 E4/6), Monday 10th July, BBC2

After last week’s bucolic interlude in the rural idyl of Hackney Marshes, surely this week’s episode must get back into the cut-and-thrust of life and death in Whitechapel? Wasting the potential of an escape to a normal life with fishmonger’s daughter Prudence, and reverting to his savage nature, the Whitechapel Golem, Nathaniel, has killed again. Will this mark Reid’s final chance to capture him?

The death of Prudence and her brother was as inevitable as we imagined; it was so futile to consider that Nathaniel could be redeemed, that the previous episode seems utterly pointless. Considering that Reid and the gang achieved nothing in the interim, we might as well have skipped it, and taken up directly from their failed plot to smoke out Augustus Dove.

While we’re still bereft at the loss of Drake, and roundly fed up with the drippy Mathilda, at least there’s some heat in the relationship between Reid, Jackson and Susan, and their battle against Shine and Dove. Whatever happens to them, it surely can’t be a happy ending for all.

At the moment, it’s Jedediah Shine who seems doomed, dosing himself with morphine and cocaine as the agony of his tumour increases. But when news of the Hackney murders gets out via the survivor Robin, Thatcher delivers it to Reid first, so disenchanted is he with Shine’s methods. Shine does at least coin a new insult for Thatcher – ‘pansy-flaps’ – which we intend to use on a daily basis.

By the time Reid reaches the Sumner house, it’s been forensically cleaned by Dove, but Jackson uses his tracking skills to determine the disposition of the bodies. More to the point, when Shine turns up, it’s a chance to get the drop on him, share information about Nathaniel, and warn him not to interfere in the pursuit of Augustus Dove.

Reid shows a sadistic streak here, depriving Shine of his morphine; it’s a measure of how hardened he has become through experience. But the lesson certainly isn’t wasted on Shine; he’s straight off to his master Dove, putting the squeeze on him over Reid.

Orphan Robin flees into Spitalfields, and falls into the hands of Dove’s J Division goon-squad; he looks like he’s heading for a fall down some stairs, and into the river. Meanwhile Reid is searching for the bodies of the Sumners in the Thames, calculating they may have washed up at Goodluck Hope – good luck with that, then. The body he does find is in fact Robin’s; how did that happen, then? Was Dove clever enough to work out where the Sumners’ bodies would end up, and plant Robin’s there? Or is it just that all bodies dumped in the Thames conveniently end up at this spot?

Whatever the case, without the clue of the Sumners’ bodies, Jackson reckons there’s no case; Reid, of course, is determined to continue, unaware that Shine and Dove are turning Mathilda and Drummond against him.

Jackson’s desperate plan to escape with Connor results in the death of the hideous Chudleigh (hooray!), fittingly at the hand of Susan – but Nathaniel is spared. Meanwhile Reid is caught in Shine’s snare, beaten and humiliated on the steps of H Division. Shine wants to batter him and make him kneel (like General Zod in Superman II) and bend to his will. Did he let Shine do it? Well, Reid didn’t put up much of a fight against a man who is supposedly dying. Shine, on the other hand, seemed to acknowledge that he couldn’t live without his nemesis – that the hunt for him sustained him and gave him life. And now he had him… there was no longer any need for life.

In fact Shine then ends his own life in an opium parlour, whispering that he and he alone would be his own master. As Dove sneaks in with a shiv, ready to cut his throat, Shine’s act saves him a job.

With Reid now apprehended he must now face his accusers alone; if only for the walling-up of Susan’s father, he seems to have no defence. With the ending of Shine, a bravura performance by Joseph Mawle (a truly magnificent performance, which recalled Daniel Day Lewis in his most booming, most sinister and unhinged roles), perhaps we can now return focus to the central character of Edmund Reid, as the catastrophic finale approaches.

Chris Jenkins 

For all our news and review of Ripper Street, go here


One Comment Add yours

  1. Colin C says:

    Agree that was an outstanding performance by Joseph Mawle – the final episodes are going to have to be good to make up for Shine not being there.


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